Cape Town – Strandfontein residents have questioned the City of Cape Town’s R44 million expenditure on temporary shelter for the homeless during lockdown.
The people living on the streets were housed at Strandfontein sports field in April for less than a month before the shelter was closed down. In community meetings, the City is now being questioned why they could not accommodate the poor in unoccupied City buildings instead of creating wasteful expenditure on temporary shelter.
Sandy Shutter, the chairperson of the Strandfontein Community Policing Forum, said more than 300 000 Capetonians were currently on a housing waiting list.
She said the City had a lot to answer for wasteful expenditure that occurred during the pandemic.
The City, in response to questions, said they do not believe that the temporary shelter in Strandfontein was wasteful expenditure.
Mayco member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien said the reason they did not opt to place the poor in empty buildings, was due to an instruction from the national government for immediate emergency accommodation. Using one site for the homeless was a better approach in terms of logistics and management.
He stressed that emergency procurement processes were followed in terms of the Supply Chain Management Policy and the Municipal Finance Management Act, to avert human suffering. They sheltered more than double the amount of people living on the streets in comparison to Gauteng.
“The R44 million expenditure on weather-proof tents to shelter and care for the homeless was explicitly mandated under national lockdown regulations which directed municipalities to immediately provide emergency assistance.
“Every rand was spent on caring for the homeless, covering chronic and clinical treatment for 1352 people with conditions like TB, HIV, diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy.
“About 1858 people were also screened for Covid-19, over 120 people re-integrated with their families, 4 500 meals issued a day, 2 000 mattresses and 2 000 blankets procured and distributed to every person.
“Psycho-social services were also seen to, for substance users as part of the rehabilitation process.”
Independent Media questioned the whereabouts of the 1 628 homeless people that were accommodated in the camp.
Badroodien said, at the time, 71 people returned to the street, 31 were placed in quarantine, and 356 were placed in alternative shelters at their request.
Thirteen others were reintegrated into their communities, and three were reunited with their families, he added. The whereabouts of the other homeless people who were accommodated at the site were not accounted for.
Meanwhile, Mayco member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said 320 000 people were registered on the Housing Needs Register.
“This is a dynamic, ever-changing list. As some receive housing opportunities and are taken off the list, others that qualify are added. The list is essential to ensure there is no queue-jumping, that there is fairness and that one person does not get many opportunities at the expense of others.
“There are large projects under way or planned across the metro currently. The budget the City gets from the national government for housing has been cut by R118 million, and illegal land occupations are placing some R1.3 billion worth of housing projects across the metro at risk, to the detriment of those who have been registered and waiting longer for housing.”
He explained the reason why housing projects take this long to be completed was because the City worked according to the national housing regime and its own local context in the communities that it has projects.
“Some developments are huge, and in many phases. Work on developing and delivering housing opportunities continues daily, and not all the work that gets put in is immediately visible, of course.
“The City adheres to the time frames and performs to an acceptable time frame if all goes according to plan. Within its own processes, it has contract management teams and a panel of contractors to assist in ensuring that work is completed within the shortest possible time frames in general.
“The dire and dysfunctional state of the South African economy continues to exert heavy pressure on the socio-economic conditions of residents. The City’s human settlements strategy, which it has worked on for about two years, is out for public participation.
“In it, the City asks for radical national housing reform and greater interventions by the private sector as the City on its own, as a local government, cannot solve the challenges brought on by urbanisation and the state of the South African economy,” he said.